Resort Lifeguards Capture Mid-Atlantic Regional Crown

Kylie Joson

Staff Writer

OCEAN CITY – Not only
does Ocean City think it has the most competent and dedicated lifeguards
around, but now it can claim to be the 2010 Mid-Atlantic Champions.

The Ocean City Beach
Patrol (OCBP) chapter of the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) was
recently crowned the 2010 Mid-Atlantic Regional Lifeguard Champions.

On July 14, in front of
The Grand Hotel, the OCBP hosted part one of this Mid-Atlantic Regional Competition.
This was the non-craft competition that hosted lifeguards from eight different
states in the region including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York,
Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, DC, and West Virginia. At the end of the
day, the OCBP was in second place with 165 points and the Smith Point
Lifeguards from New York were in first place with 185 points.

Part two of the
competition took place in Long Branch, N.J. It was a craft event and the OCBP
took 16 competitors, five paddleboards, a surfski and a surfboat to compete
against the other beach patrols of the mid-Atlantic region.

By the end of the day,
the OCBP came in first place with 127 points leaping ahead of Smith Point to
become the 2010 USLA Mid-Atlantic Regional Champions.

“We were fortunate
enough to have mid-atlantics in Ocean City this year to begin with. It was a
lot of work but we were excited because it was at home, on our own sand. We had
to be top competitors because you got to defend your home,” said Ryan Cowder,
treasurer of the OCBP chapter of USLA and a sergeant on the beach patrol.

Mid- Atlantics is split
into two parts. There are 15 total events, Ocean City hosted eight events and
Long Branch did seven.

Ocean City took a team
of 16 to the second part and ended up doing great. Smith Point took a smaller
team that consisted of only men. The OCBP took women lifeguards with them,
which Cowder said put them over the edge.

In order to be
competitive, Cowder said you have to have a good guys and girls team because of
the way scoring works. The guys and girls have separate events and the top 10
score. Women don’t typically compete at crafts because they don’t use the surf
skis, the surfboat, they don’t get on the paddleboard as much and typically the
surfers are guys.

“Our girls did fantastic
and scored the most points. Our girls won the crafts event,” Cowder said. “We
knew we were doing good but right before the girls American iron woman event,
the president of the USLA Mid-Atlantic region Ed Zebrowski came up to me and
said, ‘you guys are doing really well today, I don’t know if you’re keeping
points but I think you’re in the lead now.’ At that point, we only had two
events left so we had an inkling that we might win and we got pretty excited.”

Rick Cawthern, president
of the OCBP chapter of USLA and sergeant on OCBP, said, “Since Memorial Day,
we’ve been working hard and talking about how we don’t want to lose on our own
sand. Everyone wanted to do well and everyone motivated each other.”

Cowder said the regional
crown holds a deep meaning for the OCBP.

“Winning mid’s says
something about the character of our guards. They want to represent the town of
Ocean City, they want to be Maryland’s life guarding team and they have a lot
of pride in that,” Cowder said. “The guards care about the rapport they have
with the community and everyone in Ocean City. But they also want to represent
the town in competitions. So I think this year that that we are able to do
both, really says a lot.”

The guards that competed
in Mid-Atlantics are off the clock and don’t get paid to compete. All they get
is the simple pride that comes out of winning and the fact that they are able
to represent the town.

“It says a lot about
their character, that they give up their free time practicing every day after
work and now we can say that OCBP is number one in the region out of the eight
states,” Cowder said. “It’s a huge accomplishment. They get the bragging rights
and nothing monetary.”

Cawthern added, “We
never anticipated we would do this good this year. It takes months of planning
to go to nationals and it’s in Huntington Beach, Calif. this year. It’s
expensive to send a team to nationals and hard to string something together
last minute. We want to win mid’s next year and be in top three at nationals
and it’s very possible with the team we have now.”